One trading platform’s attempt to keep a successful customer from accessing their investment gains has hit a wall, with a U.K. judge denying a sweeping request for evidence from the customer and her husband—who happens to be Dr. Craig Wright.
Reliantco Investments Ltd, the Cyprus-based owner of trading platform UFX, is being sued by Craig Wright’s wife, Ramona Ang, for blocking her futures trading and then not allowing her to withdraw her funds. Broadly, Ang had invested US$200,000 via her UFX account and had successfully turned that into US$700,000 by the time her account was shut down. Ang has claimed that the account would now be worth in excess of US$3 million based on the positions she had taken at the time the account was blocked.
Reliantco is arguing that Ang’s account was unlawfully opened, because in reality, Wright was the person running it. According to Reliantco, it was Wright who was accessing the account. According to Ang, the couple operates a VPN within their home to allow access to their accounts while overseas.
The defeat concerned an application for third party disclosure in respect of Wright. Reliantco was trying to secure an order to get Wright to produce documents relating to the funds Ang had deposited into the UFX account and relating to the VPN in use at the time. These included details as to the architecture of the couple’s home network and a search of Wright’s email account for keywords relating to the loan that Ang claims formed the basis of her initial investment on UFX.
The judge dismissed the application with the exception of one request relating to invoices from their network provider which would show the leasing of the IP addresses used by the VPN, calling Reliantco’s requests too late and too broad.
Reliantco has already tried—and failed—to advance argument that Ang could not have been the true owner and operator of the UFX account. Earlier in the case, the court ruled that EU consumer protection laws allow Ang to sue Reliantco in any EU jurisdiction in which she is a resident. Reliantco had been trying to force the case into the courts of Cyprus in accordance with UFX’s terms and conditions, saying that the EU laws do not apply to Ang since she was not acting as a consumer investor. Reliantco’s basis for this was, incredibly, that Ang being the wife of a globally-renowned expert in digital assets somehow made it impossible for her to be investing and trading on her own accord, without the direction of her husband. This despite Ang being a well-educated woman which the record shows—even in this case—has held numerous high-profile positions over the course of her prior career.
This approach was resolutely rejected by the court, presumably in part because it was being advanced in the 21st century. Ang successfully argued that nothing about her activity on the platform put her outside the definition of a consumer for the purpose of EU regulation, that she was at all times trading as a consumer and that her husband’s profession is irrelevant to that question.
The attempt to argue that a woman could not have operated a trading account without the direction of her husband is a new wrinkle in an otherwise tired pattern of a shady trading platform trying to avoid having to pay successful customers their earned investment gains. That Ang—a paying customer—is now being forced through the rigmarole of the courts (including both her and her husband being subject to requests to turn over emails and home network details) simply to access the returns on her investments—is concerning, but sadly too common an occurrence in what has become a minefield of bad-faith trading and shady exchange operators.
The trial for this case is scheduled to begin on October 12, where the court will hear argument from both sides as to whether Reliantco was right in suspending and blocking access to Ang’s account and funds.
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